Holeman & Finch Public House, the Buckhead restaurant that spurred a series of popular spinoffs including H&F Burger and H&F Bottle Shop, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a new look and a new menu. First unveiled in October, the revamped space and accompanying food and beverage offerings are designed to create an approachable, unpretentious vibe that draws customers in weekly, restaurateur/chef Linton Hopkins says.
He worked closely with executive chef Spencer Gomez on the menus, bringing back popular dishes like pancetta and farm egg carbonara, and bacon caramel popcorn, as well as innovating with new fish and vegetable offerings.
The once dark space is now decorated in gray and off-white and has a new communal table by the bar.
Read on to hear more about the changes from Hopkins himself.
Why did you decide to redesign the restaurant after 10 years?
It’s the same idea as why I change the menu: appetites change. The same thing goes with the environment. [My wife] Gina [Hopkins] and I were sitting there having a glass of wine at about 5:30 p.m. The sunlight was streaming in. I was thinking I loved the old look after it got dark, but it wasn’t comfortable for communication in groups when there was sunlight.
H&F wasn’t meant to be a bar. It was to be a great public house, expressive of its community and its values. It’s not about mixology. It’s about pouring a glass of ice water properly and cooking bacon the right way. The design reflects more of that original intent. It feels more comfortable.
What kind of changes did you make?
We got rid of the dark color and changed the lighting to brighten it up. We got some new art pieces, including a cool, modern mosaic of metal that evokes Coca-Cola. We used to have [smaller] bar top tables in the middle of the bar area. Now we have a big community table there. We carved some bar corners out to create more flow and room, and got rid of the dark wood floors and added concrete. The window facing the parking lot never had the best view, so we added another banquette and some cool woodwork to create this peekaboo look there.
How has the menu evolved?
We expanded the menu to more items for more of an a la carte world. A lot of our original clientele grew up and had kids. We rebuilt the menu around making the plates a good sharing size, with a lot of snacks and vegetables. That’s really great for kids. It’s about being approachable. You can order charcuterie and cheese by the piece and don’t have to get a board. We’re setting out bread and pickles when you sit down—we’ve never done that before.
There are certain things at a public house that shouldn’t change, like the best hits. I wanted the fish and chips to always be on the menu. We have our deviled eggs, and our carbonara is back. We have a Eureka cut of steak. It’s a flank steak served simply with herb butter on top. I wanted to celebrate local cheese more. Now we always have a minimum of nine cheeses.
This summer we took the burger back to 24 a day, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. We never wanted Holeman & Finch to be a burger restaurant. That’s H&F Burger.
When H&F opened, it became known for its cocktail program. Now that most of the original bar staff has moved on, how is the beverage program changing?
We’ve never called ourselves a craft cocktail place. My wife Gina is a sommelier. We want to have great wine, great beer, and great cocktails. It’s about serving people. Carl Spier is the new general manager, and he really gets hospitality. We’re putting the names of the bartenders who invent each drink on the menu. We’re promoting our head bartender, Dmitri McDonald, from within. He worked here when Greg [Best], Andy [Minchow], and Regan [Smith] were partners. We’re returning to our original value: simplicity. Greg was always big into the three-piece cocktail.
What’s your favorite cocktail on the list?
I like bright, citrus-based cocktails. I’ve fallen in love with rum lately. I like “A Poor Fellow.” The name is a Knights Templar translation. It has grapefruit, chartreuse, lime juice, white rum, and maraschino liqueur.
How have the wine offerings changed?
Our wine list was becoming too tight and expensive. Now every wine is available by the glass. We’re serving out of a pichet (a French ceramic pitcher) instead of a carafe, opening the menu up to more tasting.